Coming into the 2017 track and field season for the West Holmes Middle School program, Lane Graham wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
He is now.
Graham not only qualified for the Ohio Middle School State Track and Field meet, he went to Lancaster and proved he belonged with the best of the best, placing second despite being the smallest competitor out there.
“This was actually Lane’s first year of throwing, so we really had no clue how he would stack up,” WHMS coach Cooper Charlton said.
Charlton said they allow the middle school athletes to pick and choose what events they want to compete in, and he said he was a little surprised to see Charlton, a 175-pounder, land in the throwing realm.
In a sport usually designed for those physically imposing kids, Graham bent the rules, but he never quit learning and striving to improve, and it landed him a spot at state.
Once there he stared down athletes who were 50-60 pounds heavier and a head taller, but that didn’t deter him or intimidate him in the slightest. He simply let his technique rule the day, and that took him all the way to a state runner-up spot on the podium. The one athlete who beat him to win the event was 100-pounds heavier than Graham.
“There were some monster-sized kids competing there, but watching Lane throw and beat almost all of them was amazing,” Charlton said. “His form was so awesome. This really gives him a better picture as to where he stands, and this will certainly help motivate him to continue to develop into a great thrower.”
Charlton said very few athletes are willing to actually listen and learn as they work on their skills. He said it does take a lot of hard work and practice, but when it comes to the cerebral part of taking what a coach is trying to convey to an athlete and then implementing it, Graham is second to none.
“Lane is an incredibly hard worker, but what I like the best about him is that he actually listens and learns,” Charlton said of Graham. “He takes what you teach him and puts it into the ring when he throws. In middle school especially, it is hard to take what a coach is trying to teach and be able to replicate it, but he picks things up so quickly. That is a unique trait, and he is so open to being taught how to get better and perfect his technique.”
Charlton said Graham has watched some tremendous Knights throwers at the varsity level including Div. II All-Ohioan Josh Goudy, and he said Graham’s ability to study and emulate some top throwers ahead of him will serve him well as he works at his craft.
“He sees what they have accomplished, and he wants to push himself even further than that,” Charlton said of Graham.
As he enters the high school world of competition next year as a freshman, Graham will have every opportunity to again prove himself. With a huge work ethic and a willingness to be a real student of the game, Charlton believes there is no reason to think that the youngster won’t be every bit as successful as he was this year.